Trap, Neuter, Return

What is TNR?

Trap and Kill

As a general rule, feral cats cannot be adopted into human homes, and relocating them to another area is extremely difficult. Therefore, in most cases, if feral cats are taken to an animal shelter instead of being altered and returned, they will be killed. Besides being inhumane, trap and remove is only a temporary “solution,” opening up an ecological void which more cats— unneutered—will eventually fill, starting the breeding process all over again. Trap and remove, then, is an endless cycle of breeding and killing, while TNR is a lifesaving and permanent solution.

Case Studies

A survey of feral cat caregivers conducted by The SF/SPCA found that every caregiver who implemented a TNR program saw their colony stabilize or decrease in number. In San Francisco’s Golden Gate Park. one feral cat colony has been reduced from 85 cats to two through TNR. And after caregivers at Stanford University started a successful TNR program, the campus cat population reached zero population growth almost immediately. Today, through natural attrition and the adoption of tame cats, the colony has decreased by over 50%.

In contrast, Sonoma State University administration implemented a trap and kill program over the objections of campus cat caregivers. Less than one year after the cats were removed, more cats were again making their home on campus. At Georgetown University, school officials trapped feral cats and took them to the local animal control agency where the cats were killed. Less than six months later, 10 new unaltered cats and 20 kittens appeared on the campus.

One of the primary misconceptions about feral cat caregivers it that they “establish” cat colonies. In fact, the opposite is true. Feral cat caregivers are helping cats who are already there. And by working to feed and alter the cats, the caregivers are improving the lives of the cats and reducing potential problems. Through TNR, the caregivers are actively helping the cats and working to reduce their numbers over time. By feeding the cats, they are reducing wandering and other behaviors that may lead to “conflicts” with others.

How You Can Help

While it is advisable to provide food and water on a daily basis, for those who do not wish to take these steps, just having the cats altered will help a great deal.  Here are three good reasons to get started with TNR:

1.   It’s effective. Having the cats altered and returning them to their habitats is the quickest way to permanently reduce feral cat populations.

2.   It’s humane. There are very few feral cat sanctuaries and even fewer volunteers seeking to adopt feral cats. If you trap the cats and take them to animal control shelters, they will be killed since feral cats cannot be adopted into homes.

3.   You’ll be in good company. Tens of thousands of compassionate people are helping ferals by having them spayed or neutered. Join the crowd!